by Sr. Noeleen Mooney, MMM Ireland 07/10/2021
To have a value on our lives, silence and solitude must at some time be experienced and found to be worthwhile, or even vital as a way of gathering our inner forces to respond to what life’s journey and our God asks of us.
Maasai warriors in Tanzania have a remarkable way of going apart, and I was once privileged to observe how they go about it.
Every so often a group of them will decide that they need time apart. Perhaps ten or so will gather, and choose a secluded spot in a remote area. They call it an ‘or-pool’. They will carefully build grass sleeping huts – just big enough to crawl into, but cool and shady. They surround the area with a thorn fence to keep out the wild animals. They bring a cow and that will be their food. They will drink the blood, make soup, eat meat, and carefully peg out the hide to dry. They will plait each other’s long hair, decorate their bodies with ochre and generally enjoy life and each other’s company in this place of solitude. They do not set a time limit to their stay. If the cow has been eaten and they are not ready to leave, they will get another one. No women are allowed in, except a young girl who will be delegated to bring drinking water to the entrance.
They look on this as a time of building up their strength, both mental and physical.
You would think that people living as the Maasai do in remote areas with little outside distraction wouldn’t need to go apart, but obviously they do.
We wouldn’t go to such extremes, but we do need moments of solitude, or even longer stretches, where we consciously set aside our everyday occupations to enable the ear of the heart to hear ‘the God who is not in the whirlwind’.
OBS: This was an audio recording for RTE Radio 1: A Living Word.